By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
A power expert, Mr Kola Balogun, has urged the new ministers to setup a team of experts to create a performance driven criteria for the entire power sector value chains mostly especially the Discos
Balogun says there is need for the Federal Government to set a roadmap to address generation, distribution and transmission challenges in the power sector.
Balogun, who is the Chairman, Momas Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company (MEMMCOL) gave the advised on Wednesday in Lagos that this became necessary to redirect the power sector to be more focused and business oriented.
He said the power sector was faced with various challenges, that had to do with lack of ownership of the entire power sector value chain.
He said in taking ownership, somebody must define a proper roadmap, to know the goals of the power sector reform.
Balogun, however, advised the new minister to be up and doing as well as surpass the strides taken in the sector by his predecessor.
Balogun urged him to bring his experience to bear with a view to continuing and surpassing the efforts the current administration had made in the power sector.
He advised the minister to ensure technical and commercial alignment of the value chains in the nation’s power sector.
He also urged the new minister to ensure cooperation and collaboration among the stakeholders ,with a view to ensuring the growth of the sector.
According to him, the minister should be in the forefront of promoting requisite peace and partnership in the sector in a way that operators would see Nigeria as an entity worth transacting business with.
“Specifically, the sector needs a principled and determined person who will take decisions against partisan interests, for growth of the sector.
“Minister should reactivate the independent power projects in the country, engage the power distribution and generation companies with a view to appraising those with the capacity to serve effectively in the areas of strength,” he said.
He also tasked the minister to ensure massive deployment of meters to all customers as well as use technology to monitor their customers to eliminate all manualisation of operations.
He advised the ministry to champion a road map that is target driven , to improve the sector.
He said :“ To my own observation, it is to ensure that power is made available to the general populace of Nigeria at a reasonable tariff.
“I don’t want a miss-merge, we need to enhance our infrastructure on the distribution value chain, generation is increasing tremendously.
“Federal government is trying to spend more money on transmission, the distribution network needs to be improved and we are providing a way forward to be able to improve distribution infrastructure by ensuring that all the substation and all technical and commercial losses are reduced significantly to barest minimum.
“In other to deliver power to the consumers, if you have meter in all customers premises and the network/ infrastructures cannot support to deliver power to the premises, it is a wasteful investment.
“What government needs to do is to call all stakeholders and look at the new road map of achieving optimisation in our power sector dream.
“We cannot solve the problem of Nigeria power sector by academy exercise, it is important that all the stakeholders has one thing in mind that look, our power sector must work we must have a reference cases where we can burst of success story.
“We need to start to create success stories by ensuring uninterrupted power supply. That should be the new next level agenda for government.”
The expert also urged the government to create a centralised data based system to indicate the volume of consumers in the network by the regulators.
” This is necessary to centralize one stock point where we can see all consumers of power sector, not the Disco giving regulators data,” he said.
He said that the regulators should have supervisory councils that will supervise the entire discos, which have the technology to do that.“We need one single spot data base to monitor the entire discos effectively with their performance and it should be pluggable and done locally because we have the strength and manpower,” he said.
Balogun urged the Federal Government to jail any Meter Assets Providers (MAPs) who contravenes the power sector Local Content Act.
Balogun said the massive importation of electrical equipment into the country is alarming , which contravenes the Executive Order 5.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari on Feb. 15, 2018, signed the Executive Order 5 into law to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components and a step toward achieving the nation’s developmental goal of improving all sectors of the economy.
“There is need for government to jail anybody who contravenes the Local Content Act, people need to be punished for contriving the act. It is when the violators of local content act are punished that they will know the importance of creating the local content in power sector.
“There is need for us to create employment, and the opportunity in the power sector that can take care of jobless people on the street, because there are so many imported items coming into the country that can be produced locally.
“Until government insists on local content enhancement in power sector, we need to take our destiny on our hands,” he said.
He said that this became necessary to check violation, as some firms might make nonsense of the Act if the government failed to impose such sanctions.
“The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), a regulator and custodian of the Local Content Act, should as a matter of urgency, commence the discharge of its obligations by monitoring the operations of companies in the power sector with a view to tracking and enforcing compliance with the Executive Order 5. “Similarly, Federal Government should use all apparatus at its disposal in breathing life to the spirit and intent of the Act.
” Local Content Act was promulgated to enhance local participation in the power sector, but indigenous firms are yet to play significant role in the industry,” he said.
He said that the local content law for the power sector will not only protect the indigenous players in the evolving Nigerian power sector but also have positive impact on the economy by raising gross domestic product (GDP) and providing employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.
He ,however, assured that the local meters manufacturers have the production capacity to bridge the wide electricity metering gap in the sector and can also supply world-class standard meters to neighbouring countries and Africa at large.
He noted that this would also encourage foreign companies who import meters into Nigeria to come and set up manufacturing plants in Nigeria which will further boost the economy and improve capacity of Nigerians.
“We are particularly proud of NERC for having the political-will to make the commitment which will go down in the history of this country and for posterity in repositioning the power sector which is very critical to the country’s economy.
He urged the electricity distribution companies (Discos) and the MAP providers to embrace the local content law in the power sector by patronizing the local meter manufacturers while assuring that member companies are capable to deliver world class metering solutions and allied products that can compete favourably with any product in the world.
The meter manufacturer said that non-compliance with the law, should result to the suspension of projects/contracts, penalty of five per cent of project sum, withdrawal of ministry of power ’s services, and project cancellation unrecoverable sunk cost.
He said that government should also ensure that such violators are escalation to other regulators to withdraw or suspend license, withdrawal of approvals or de-classification of contractor from pre-qualification list, application of the full weight of the law in accordance with Executive order 5 and publication of non-compliant operators in newspapers and professional gazettes.
He said the government should mandate to develop local capacity in key areas such as manufacturing and fabrication and promote indigenous ownership of assets and utilization of indigenous assets in power sector operations.
“I am of the opinion that meter imported into the country is a total contravention of the Local content Act, regulation says you must patronise 30 per cent local content , which you do not fulfill and yet you are fulfilling 70 per cent foreign importation of meters.
“I am confirming to you that none of the MAPs licensee has approached me to buy meter of 30 per cent provided by the regulation despite singing an MOU.
“So the 30 per cent levies by government is a welcome development to increase local capability but it is a serious issue when they import meters without fulfilling the 30 per cent initial order from the local factories,” he said.